Monday, May 1, 2017

An Announcement


A new series of videos present a quick introduction to my research. The series, "Cosmism in the Restored Gospel" presents a series of novel approaches that will answer most of your questions.

You can watch them all here:

Give your gospel knowledge and comprehension a big boost, while strengthening your testimony.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Guest Post
By Kevin Merrell 
In Need of a Revelation About the Book of Revelation
Once we take the Book of Revelation seriously, what are we to make
of the casserole of curious metaphors that populate it?
Container or contents?
In the movie, The Princess Bride, Wallace Shawn plays Vizzini, a self–important little boss in a trio of bumbling outlaws. Mandy Pitinkin plays another of the outlaws, Inigo Montoya, a Spanish fencing master intent on revenging his father’s death. Despite his belief that he’s an unusually clever person, Vizzini is fond of saying that unlikely events are “inconceivable!” Once after he says this, Inigo thoughtfully replies, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” The same could be said for a word that showed up as far back as the Book of Revelation or The Apocalypse of John in the Bible. The word, apocalypse, is a part of our modern written and visual vocabulary to describe the world as we know it collapsing into chaos, suffering and destruction, right? Yes and no.
While the dictionary indeed defines apocalypse as “a great disaster: a sudden and very bad event that causes much fear, loss, or destruction”, the word has its origins in the Greek word, apokalypsis, simply meaning “to reveal or uncover”. It’s as if the word, apocalypse, was a jug full of chocolate milk. At one time the word, jug, meant a container for liquid and the words, chocolate milk, meant chocolate–flavored milk. Over the course of thousands of years, however, the word, jug in this case has taken on the meaning of its contents, the chocolate milk. There is great value in separating the container of the revelations of John from its contents of prophecies about the judgments of God in the last days.
This is revelation
The first verses of the Book of Revelation open with a bold statement announcing this separation of container from content and inviting our attention and further study:
1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
 3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. (Revelation 1:1–3)
In verse one we learn that John’s revelation is actually Jesus’ revelation and as with all matters divine, it originates with God. Will we heed the mind and will of the Lord? By way of assignment a messenger or angel has guided John through the revelation. In verse two we learn that the Book of Revelation is John’s testimony or witness of Jesus Christ and the events of the last days that were shown to him. In verse three we discover that a blessing is attached to reading, hearing and abiding by the words of the revelation. The phrase, “for the time is at hand,” adds a note of urgency mirroring Jesus’ own urgency when he taught his apostles about the last days.
The gift of a divine message
In the Book of Mormon we learn that others, including Nephi the son of Lehi, have experienced this same comprehensive, panoramic vision of the human story seen by John:
25 But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them.
26 And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel.
27 And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel. (1 Nephi 14:25–27)
Nephi is forbidden by an angel to write an account of the vision of all things because it is the task of another. John, the apostle of the Lamb of God, has been ordained to share this testimony and revelation with us. Other prophets have been shown the same vision but their records are sealed up to come forth in a future day of the Lord’s choosing. The Book of Revelation is the gift of a divine message to us, a testimony of Jesus Christ and a witness by divine decree to the events unfolding in the last days. What faithful person would not be drawn in study and prayer to John’s revelation? Will God not hold us accountable for what we do with such a gift?
“Plain and pure”
Even a casual reading of John’s Apocalypse, however, raises an additional but perplexing question: if the Book of Revelation is a specially-prepared testimony of Jesus and of end time events, why, oh why, does it feel so obscure and mysterious to us? With its jambalaya of curious beasts, books, seals, trumpets, colors and sounds, the book reads in places like some kind of fever dream or hallucination.
Remarkably, in the opinion of the angel teaching Nephi about the vision, John’s record is plain, pure and easy to understand:
Wherefore, the things which he [John] shall write are just and true; and behold they are written in the book which thou beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew; and at the time they proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, or, at the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men. (1 Ne. 14:23.)
“Well, of course it’s clear to an angel,” we think to ourselves, “Without the veil to cloud his understanding it’s easy for him to understand John’s vision.” While that’s undoubtedly true there’s also a possible clue for us in the text. The angel notes that “at the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure.” Like many parts of the Bible the story may well have gotten muddled in transcription and translation before it got to us.
Working on the puzzle
Even if we’re stuck with a clear story that took a beating when it went through repeated translations, yet there are pieces to the puzzle that we might piece together for ourselves. For instance, when we read about the opening of the sixth seal (the sixth thousand-year period of the earth’s mortal probation) in Revelation 6:12–16 we see a tremendous earthquake followed by lights out and everyone ducking for cover:
12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
In verse 13 we’re not sure what to make of stars falling to the earth yet in verse 15 we read that everyone from the high and mighty to the lowest of the low are trying to find a cave to take refuge in. Why? Something is falling out of the sky on them. Could the word stars in this case perhaps mean meteorites? Later in chapter eight we read of hail and fire falling from the sky and burning up a third of the earth’s vegetation. Could the word hail in this case mean meteorites again? Hundred–pound burning rocks falling out of the sky makes more sense than 100–pound hailstones falling out of the sky. Also it’s a stretch to imagine fire and ice coming down at the same time much less burning up great swaths of vegetation around the world.
Continuing on in Revelation 8:8–9 we read of something described as a mountain falling from the sky into the sea causing the water to become as blood, rendering it toxic to all aquatic life. Where have we heard of water being turned to blood, rendering it poisonous before? The story of Moses and the plagues of Egypt. There are a number of similarities between the plagues of Egypt and the judgments of God found in the Book of Revelation. Because God always uses natural means to accomplish his purposes it’s not unreasonable to imagine him using the same natural forces in both scenarios. One of the striking similarities among all scriptural accounts of the last days is a connection to the heavens. Something dramatic always appears in the sky or falls out of the sky.
“One of the plainest books”
It’s one thing for an angel to declare the Book of Revelation to be clear and easily understood by all but what are we to make of Joseph Smith’s declaration to a conference of the Church on April 8, 1843 that, “The book of Revelation is one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written”? (History of the Church, 5:342.) What? Did the prophet of this, the final dispensation of the fullness of times, receive the same vision of all things seen by John, Nephi, Moses, Enoch and the Brother of Jared? Joseph never claimed that he did but anything he received from the Lord could help us decipher the Book of Revelation.
In fact as Joseph Smith was translating the Bible he had a question-and-answer session with the Lord about the Book of Revelation that is preserved in the Doctrine and Covenants as Section 77. A pattern quickly emerges in D&C 77 that John is telling the story using symbols
3 Q. Are the four beasts limited to individual beasts, or do they represent classes or orders?
A. They are limited to four individual beasts, which were shown to John, to represent the glory of the classes of beings in their destined order or sphere of creation, in the enjoyment of their eternal felicity.
 4 Q. What are we to understand by the eyes and wings, which the beasts had?
A. Their eyes are a representation of light and knowledge, that is, they are full of knowledge; and their wings are a representation of power, to move, to act, etc. (D&C 77:3–4)
Find me a code book
Describing one thing as another thing is a rich, poetic form called metaphor that resembles using code words or a specialized vocabulary. For instance, instead of saying there was so much dust in the air that the moon looked red, we read in several places in scripture that there will come a time in the last days that “the moon will turn to blood.” In fact there is an entire sub–genre in scripture called apocalyptic literature that includes, besides the Book of Revelation, sections of Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Habakkuk, Mark 13, Matthew 24, 1 Nephi 13–14 and D&C 88. These passages written by different prophets at different times and in different places all refer to the last days using similar if not the exact same metaphors. Perhaps part of our challenge in grasping the Book of Revelation or apocalyptic literature in general is learning this prophetic language. We’d benefit from a code book or a Rosetta Stone to help us make sense of all those metaphors. If Joseph Smith proclaimed the Book of Revelation one of the plainest of all books, he probably understood this prophetic language of metaphors.
Remarkably, LDS researcher Anthony E. Larson claims to have discovered robust, workable insights mirrored by non–LDS scholars that unlock the metaphoric language of the prophets. He’ll be the first to state he’s not a prophet but he does make good use the same gifts of reason and prayerful study that we’ve all been given and invited to use. Through books, a blog, an excellent series of on–line courses and a Facebook page, Brother Larson connects us with both the seemingly supernatural, miraculous stories from ancient scripture as well as the events of the last days foretold in scripture. Check out Anthony Larson’s take on prophetic language and decide for your self.
“One grand sign”
Joseph Smith taught that it is not God’s intention for us as the children of the light to be caught off guard by the events of the last days:
The coming of the Son of Man never will be—never can be till the judgments spoken of for this hour are poured out: which judgments are commenced. Paul says, ‘Ye are the children of the light, and not of the darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief in the night.’ It is not the design of the Almighty to come upon the earth and crush it and grind it to powder, but he will reveal it to His servants the prophets. (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 286).
More useful news: God reveals his design for the last days to his servants the prophets. Already Joseph Smith and Nephi have helped us better understand the Book of Revelation. By knowing about the events of the last days we can recognize in faith the hand of God when his judgments come instead of concluding that he has forgotten us, or worse.
And there’s more. Continuing his insights about the end times Joseph shared with us the grand sign of the second coming of Christ:
Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, and etc.; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance.
There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 286–87).
 Thank you, Joseph, for the grand sign of the second coming!

“Unfolded in the eyes of all the people”
Finally, let’s give Moroni the last word and add him to the list of the Lord’s servants the prophets that can help us better understand the Book of Revelation. In the book of Ether the Lord speaks to Moroni of the revelations of John:
15 Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.
 16 And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. Remember, when ye see these things, ye shall know that the time is at hand that they shall be made manifest in very deed.
 17 Therefore, when ye shall receive this record ye may know that the work of the Father has commenced upon all the face of the land. (Ether 4:15–17)
More clues! Our veil of unbelief, hardness of heart and blindness of mind are all part of the problem. It doesn’t mean we’re bad people it just means our traditions of understanding the Book of Revelation and the last days prevent us from actually understanding them. All of us can humbly call upon the Father in the name of Christ and seek to understand the Book of Revelation the best we can. As we do there’ll come a time when everyone understands the revelations of John, and when that happens, the events themselves will manifest shortly thereafter. Furthermore, as we’ve already received the record of Moroni we know that the work of the Father has commenced. It feels like we’re right in the thick of things now. We feel empowered to go out and study the Book of Revelation.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

What Is This?

The typical reaction of church members when first exposed to Joseph Smith’s use of cosmological imagery is one of disbelief. “You mean there is more to the gospel of Jesus Christ than I have been taught?” is a typical reaction. This is mostly due to the fact that their previous gospel education or belief system did not include this aspect of gospel study. It was one of the first concepts lost in the widespread apostasy after the death of Christ’s apostles, so other Christian denominations know nothing of it. Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, wrote at length about how the “plain and precious” parts of the gospel were suppressed in the apostasy. Along with all that is taught publicly, there is more to the Restored Gospel than meets the eye.

This information cannot harm you, nor detract from your testimony. There is no need to fear it. Rather, it can only expand and complement your present grasp of the gospel, as well as markedly strengthen your conviction that you are a member of the one true church of Jesus Christ, restored by a prophet in these latter days.

The Restoration saw the reinstatement of these concepts, along with the other vital concepts you have learned in your time as a latter-day saint. They are explained in the teachings of Joseph Smith, and they are employed in his revelations, including the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. In addition, this very same information allows us to understand the otherwise arcane and odd symbolic imagery used by all the prophets and in our modern temples.

This information is not taught to investigators. We leave that task to our capable and inspired missionaries, who are called to carry the basic gospel principles to the world under the direction of church leaders. They teach the vital essentials that most Christians can understand, enough to convince them of the validity of the Restoration if they choose to listen. Of course, sincere inquiry confirms these truths via the Spirit to all who ask with a sincere heart and real intent.

However once one has obtained a conviction of the Restoration and a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and the church he founded through personal revelation, this information becomes the next step forward in one’s ongoing efforts to master gospel principles and concepts.

You will not find this instruction in church manuals, nor will you hear it in General Conference talks. It is not taught in Sunday School nor from our pulpits on Sundays. The information presented in those venues is for investigators and newly confirmed members. It’s also vital for longtime members to review regularly. Those are the first principles. This is additional information we are meant to search out for ourselves as part of our eternal progression.

Yet this additional information should be approached the same way as the basics taught by missionaries and in church, with diligence and earnest prayer to confirm its validity and value to our understanding of the “fullness” of the Restored Gospel.

This fullness, this ancient knowledge, includes a rich set of metaphors—graphics and word images—that were used anciently by prophets, down through time. Mastering the use and meaning of these metaphors and this imagery requires time and effort. It simply cannot be done in one sitting or with a brief explanation. It requires considerable study and practice, as with any new skill.

It’s missing entirely from our cultural and religious training and tradition. Therefore, church members must begin with the basics, including the ancient history of the heavens, as taught by the prophets, and how things seen there by our ancestors, at the very dawn of time, spawned this cryptic set of metaphors and icons. One simply must master the history of this imagery and how it was used in ancient cultures worldwide, not just by the prophets, to understand its implementation in sacred texts.

To the newcomer, it all seems odd and unfamiliar. Yet it is the key to all prophetic and temple imagery, including prophecy and the sometimes bizarre imagery used by the prophets—things like horses, wheels, eyes, mountains, candlesticks, beasts, etc.

 It’s much like learning a new language. You must start with a few words, and then work and study to build your vocabulary. But once mastered, anyone can read and understand the scriptures and temple rituals. (Yes, temple icons and rituals can be “read,” just like scripture!)

Why should we settle for less? After all, this was a restoration of “all things,” including that which was lost in the apostasy.

Unlike the interpretations proffered by our Christian cousins, where a verse from this vision and another from that vision are cited and then cobbled together to create a strained interpretation, this is a simple and systematic way of reading and understanding prophecy and temple imagery that anyone can understand, given the proper training. Other ministers and scholars use a distorted, piecemeal and disjointed method of interpretation, “cherry picking” scripture. That is a methodology foreign to the prophets, the apostles and the Savior’s way of teaching.

One need not be a prophet to understand prophecy. A little training and study, using Joseph Smith’s guidance and direction, suffice to help anyone read and understand the most puzzling of prophetic utterances. The meaning literally leaps off the pages of scripture, once mastered. What is more, the imagery and ritual in our temple endowment, which has little meaning to our untrained eyes and ears, becomes part of the rich tapestry that constitutes gospel imagery and iconography, meanings and understandings that are virtually invisible without this training.

So, this is your invitation to move forward in your gospel knowledge and instruction, opening the meaning of scriptural and temple imagery to your mind, strengthening your existing testimony and adding to your conviction of the Restoration, the prophet Joseph Smith and the church he founded.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Forgotten Promise

We may have overlooked a significant promise given us by a prophet of God.
Moroni, writing his own observations in the Book of Ether, had this to say to us, the members of the modern church:

Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.

Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up  from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.

 And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. Remember, when ye see these things, ye shall know that the time is at hand that they shall be made manifest in very deed. (Ether 4:14–16, italics added for emphasis.)

In these verses, Moroni seems to be saying that the day will come when John’s enigmatic Revelation in the New Testament, also known as the Apocalypse of John, will be fully understood.

Is that possible? Well, if Moroni is to be believed, it must be.

That begs the question, is it understood now? Some Mormons might be tempted to say yes, that Christian ministers and teachers, including some LDS scholars who say essentially the same things, have managed to wrest the intended meaning from John’s peculiar imagery.

Certainly, numerous efforts have been made down through the years to decipher the message John penned two millenia ago. And despite the seeming unanimity Christian scholars appear to have developed regarding its interpretation—including concepts such as the Rapture, the Battle of Armageddon and the Antichrist—the fact remains that the Savior told Joseph Smith in his First Vision that none of their teachings were correct. If that was so then, it is equally true now. Furthermore, consensus should never be mistaken for correctness.

Still, far too many church members have failed to perceive that the Lord’s condemnation of Christian doctrine in that First Vision also includes their popular interpretation of John’s prophecy. Again, if they were wrong about prophecy in Joseph Smith’s day, they must still be wrong today because their interpretations of it have changed little. In this author’s opinion, most of them have been misguided.

I have elsewhere noted that many church members and scholars have imprudently adopted the mainstream Christian or Millennialist view of Revelation. This has taken LDS thinking on the subject down a dead end path. Revelation is therefore as much a “sealed book” for us as it is for any Christian scholar.

That leaves thoughtful Latter-day Saints to wonder when and how Moroni’s prophecy will be fulfilled. Will the time come when we can read and fully understand the meaning behind John’s curious and seemingly unfathomable imagery?

Until recently, no methodology has been proposed that would allow anyone to truly “unfold” John’s enigmatic writings. But a way to do so may now be at hand. Clearly, Joseph Smith understood the book. He called it “the plainest book.”

Let me make this bold assertion: One need not be a prophet to read and understand the revelations of the prophets—both ancient and modern, John’s included—with all their arcane and bizarre imagery. Anyone can read those revelations as easily as they read a newspaper or magazine, given the proper training.

How is that possible, you say? Let’s look at this together.

Curiously, the only way to properly and understandingly read John’s writing is, in this author’s opinion, with a thoroughgoing comprehension of the cosmological metaphors he employs. The very element we see as a stumbling block is the key to deciphering the text. This is my assertion: All the enigmatic imagery John used in his great Apocalypse (Revelation) in the New Testament is based in cosmic imagery, the common denominator in all ancient cultures and religions.

We see this cosmic symbolism everywhere in ancient cultures, from their myths and legends to their sacred traditions and religious iconography. Certainly, it is on display for all to see in their monuments, temples and texts. To our eyes, it looks like paganism, the worship of cosmic gods and goddesses, chaos monsters and world threatening dragons. But a careful parsing of those riotous images and conflicting imagery, looking back into the past at the original archetypes and motifs instead of the later variations and elaborations, we discover a commonality that is otherwise hidden. That commonality became the common denominator for prophetic imagery.

As it turns out, John’s seemingly indecipherable book is a missionary tract, intended for investigators and new converts. John rehearsed all the primary themes of ancient religious lore from his day to illustrate how it fit into the new religion of Christ and to lay claim to ancient roots for the new Christian religion. It was a conversion tool, used to persuade pagans who held these cosmic traditions as sacred that Christianity honored, respected and incorporated their former beliefs and traditions, that they were all intended to point to and culminate in Christ.

Revelation, then, is more of a rehearsal of past catastrophic events and the cosmic images that went with them than it is a prediction of the future. There’s where mainstream Christianity went wrong. We believe John was looking primarily to the future in his tome, when he was, instead, looking to the sacred, cosmic traditions of the past.

So, Nibley was right. “Cosmisim,” as he dubbed it, is a key component of the Restored Gospel, just as it is in John’s Revelation. Upon serious consideration, how could it be anything less? We encounter cosmic imagery at every turn in Mormonism: in Doctrine and Covenants, in The Pearl of Great Price (especially there), in the Book of Mormon, in the teaching of Joseph Smith and on the exterior walls of our modern temples and in our sacred endowment. It is the cosmological side of the Restored Gospel.

Yet today’s Mormons eye the concept of sacred symbolism with suspicion and misgivings. Like their Christian cousins, today’s church members, for the most part, see sacred, cosmological symbolism as either inconsequential, having no real merit, or a satanic effort to distract us from the teachings of Christ, a perversion of truth, foreign to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the antithesis of Christianity.

So in that context, would it be heretical to suggest that the revised view of prophetic pronouncements espoused by this author, using cosmological imagery from hoary antiquity, is the very mechanism by which, as Moroni declared, John’s Revelation will be “unfolded in the eyes of all the people”? There is only one way to know for sure: Put it to the test. Study these concepts and then apply them.

 “And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people.”

Isn’t it a bit curious, in light of Moroni’s words, that most Mormons still do not understand John’s Revelation? Yet, with the cosmological key, the book becomes “the plainest book,” as Joseph Smith declared it to be. It can then be read like any other document, word by word, verse by verse, with nearly complete comprehension.

I know this much: One need not be a prophet to read and understand the revelations of the prophets, with all their arcane and bizarre imagery. Anyone can read Revelation as easily as they read a newspaper or magazine, as long as they employ a knowledge of the archetypes and motifs of ancient cosmological imagery.

There are hundreds of Latter-day Saints who can now do so because they have taken the time and made the effort to master the imagery and symbolism of the ancients and the prophets.

Would you care to be one of them?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Prophecy Enigma Solved

Decoding the Prophets’ Symbolism

You may have heard of the Bible Code. This is not about that. In fact, the Bible Code, as portrayed in Christian and pop literature, is a fallacy.

This essay is about a very real code, though it was never meant to be such. It happened quite by accident. You are probably very aware of it, though you’ve probably never thought of it as a code.

This is about the Prophets’ Code: the vocabulary or lexicon used by the prophets that I call the “language of the prophets.” It is characterized by the odd and often bizarre imagery found everywhere in scripture, including latter-day revelation. Examples of this imagery are such things as wheels, candlesticks, monsters or beasts, stars, trumpets and references to arcane ideas such as fire from heaven, the heavens reeling to and fro, the moon turning to blood, Alpha and Omega, the Son of Man and so forth.

So we must ask: Why the use of such symbolic or coded language? Why a Prophets’ Code? Why mystify any of the gospel? Why not simply speak plainly so all can understand?

I maintain that the prophets’ imagery was “plain language” as it was first used and understood. From the days of Adam until the demise of the Savior and his Apostles, it was a common denominator in all ancient cultures, easily comprehended by people who could neither read nor write. But because the means to understand that language has since been systematically erased or expunged from our culture over time, it has become an enigma rather than a teaching tool.

Therein lies a remarkable story.

Codes and keys: deciphering a lost language

A code can be simple or complex. A game of language called “Pig Latin” is an example of a simple code. To use it or understand it, you must have this key: Move the first letter or consonant of each word to the end of that word, and then add an “a” (pronounced “ay”). Thus, the word “store” becomes “orestay,” or the word “happy” becomes “appyhay.” And unless bystanders can figure out the key—that is, decipher the code—they will not understand what is said by those who do have the key.

So the code’s key becomes the solution to the puzzle.

For the sake of clarity, here’s a simple encoded or encrypted text that is sometimes used to baffle the uninitiated.

“How are you? Everything here is fine. Let everyone know that I am well. Please ease their concerns.”

On the face of it, this message seems to indicate that the writer is in no danger and there is no cause for alarm. But once you decipher the code, using the key, it conveys an entirely different message.

Have you detected the key? Can you decipher the message? If so, you know the message is actually a cry for help—literally! By taking only the first letter of each sentence and putting it in the same order it appeared in the original note, we get the word HELP.

Of course, coded messages are typically more complex than that. Some messages are obviously a code because the symbols used are unfamiliar and cryptic, or the text appears scrambled. Others appear to be legitimate texts, like our little example, because they can be read quite easily. In that case, it isn’t even obvious that it is an encoded message at all, as is the case with the Prophets’ Code.

In every case, one must have the key—sometimes a combination of keys—to decipher a code. Thus, it’s safe to say that where codes are concerned, the “key” unlocks the message.

Coded language

Deciphering an unknown language, such as the Prophets’ Code, is much like decoding an encrypted message.

A good example of this is the Mayan codices. The anthropologists and linguists who are working to decipher the Mayan hieroglyphs have literally been deciphering a code, plain and simple. The very word for their writing indicates that: codices.

The Mayans didn’t intend their writing system to be a code. In fact, for them it was just the opposite. It was their way of recording and presenting their cultural, traditional and religious beliefs. All Mayans could easily “read” it.

It is the passage of time and the inevitable forgetting that comes with it that makes a once-familiar writing or teaching system into a mystery, a code. For them, it was commonplace; for us, it’s an enigma.

The prophets, the apostles and the Savior didn’t invent the Prophets’ Code. They weren’t trying to hide anything. Instead, they were using a well-established, time-honored system of sacred metaphors and symbols from their contemporary cultures to teach the gospel.

Confirmation of the key

Once the proper key is applied to its code, the message it translates becomes clear. The moment that happens, it’s obvious to all concerned that the applied key is the correct one. Thus, the key’s ability to fully interpret or translate a message confirms its validity. Put plainly, it is its own proof.

Nowhere is all this truer than in our attempt to decode the prophets’ message. And it also serves to point out the shortcomings in flawed interpretations so prevalent in Christianity today. When the key is applied—or keys in this case—the message can be read in its entirety, word for word. There are no garbled or incomprehensible segments and there is no need to take bits and pieces out of context to build an interpretation, as do all our Christian cousins.

The long-lost key

So, what is the key to the Prophet’s Code? Cosmology--the events and images projected on Earth’s ancient heavens by electrified plasmas and nearby planetary orbs generating effects and phenomena seen and experienced by all mankind. These were recorded in stone, art, ritual and tradition by the ancients, which then gave rise to the major themes or motifs of all cultures.

Those themes, called metaphors or motifs and their graphic counterparts, the icons or images, became the archetypes for all sacred expression in cultures worldwide. These were handed down from generation to generation, carefully and faithfully preserved as their sacred history.

How history became a code

An explanation of how plain language became a code can be found, of all places, in the vision of Nephi, the one I call “The History Lesson.” (1 Nephi 13.)

He is shown by an angel that the Gospel—“the words of a book”-- would first be corrupted by the Gentiles and then further defiled by “that great and abominable church.”

When we look at secular or profane history, we see just what Nephi described. First the Catholic Church rejected many texts that may have contained authentic teachings of the Savior and the apostles. It’s also apparent from textual comparison that there were many alterations and changes made by these “Gentiles.”

Hence, modern Christianity is based almost entirely on doctrine from only a few texts the Catholic fathers preferred. Actually, it’s quite likely that they chose poorly in some cases because they were not guided by revelation, as were the Apostles. These few canonical texts are thought to contain all that’s needed to be a true disciple.

Later, in the Reformation, many splinter groups broke off from the Catholic. This was the Protestant movement that saw the advent of Lutherans, Calvinists and the Church of England, among others. Like their Catholic predecessors, none of the Protestant churches claimed revelation. Hence, they embraced the same canon that the Catholics had settled upon centuries earlier, though they interpreted it somewhat differently.

At about the same time, one group denounced formal religion altogether. They embraced the doctrines of skepticism, rationalism and empiricism. They rejected both the sacred canon and the teachings of Christianity as “myths,” the product of irrational, foolish minds.

But they embraced the Catholic educational system, the “university” with all its liturgical trappings and degrees of indoctrination—once called “priesthood.” These accouterments include the robes once worn in sacred settings, the cap and gown used in commencement exercises—what Nibley famously called “the robes of false priesthood.”

They created an alternate creation story, their own version of Genesis, which they later called “the Big Bang.” They fashioned their own apostles: Lyell, Hutton, Darwin, Newton and later, Einstein.

This was the Science Church, though it refused to be equated with normative religion, casting itself as the antithesis of religion. And that is the key: It is a religion, complete with its own dogma and hierarchy. Nephi saw it for what it was and correctly referred to it as a “church.” He called it “the great and abominable church”—“great” because it infiltrated all cultures the world over, “abominable” because its doctrine denied Christ and his Gospel.

The result

As a consequence of these two major influences on Christianity, as predicted by Nephi, we can come to only one conclusion: The most common cultural and religious motifs of antiquity are unknown and unrecognized in our day and age for what they truly represent. We either misinterpret them, or we are blind to them, though they surround us. If we recognize them at all, we label them “mysteries” and then dismiss them as inexplicable. They exist in our cultural traditions and customs—even our language—and they are especially prevalent in our religions.

The result: What was once a clear and unmistakable system of related ideas is now a mystery, a conundrum, a secret and impenetrable code. According to secular and sectarian authorities, they are nothing more than “myth,” “legend,” “fairy tales” or “paganism,” having virtually nothing to do with the real world or the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So too the icons that were meant to recall and explain the imagery of all ancient culture and tradition.

Deciphering the Prophets’ Code

The good news is this: You can learn the Prophets’ Code. You can read the scriptural imagery that has heretofore completely baffled you. One need not be a prophet or even a scriptorian to read the prophets’ messages and completely understand them, without the confusion and frustration you’ve encountered in the past.

A whole new world of knowledge and understanding will open to you. You’ll see the scriptures afresh, with a entirely new perspective on the past and the future. The most enigmatic passages and visions in biblical texts—from Genesis, to Ezekiel, to Isaiah, to Revelation—and modern revelation—from Doctrine and Covenants to the Pearl of Great Price—will become as child’s play to read.

Without sounding self-serving or self-important, I suggest that you avail yourself of the information provided by this author to further your understanding of the prophets’ messages. You will benefit from my many years of study and research that now offer a unique and comprehensive understanding of the Prophets’ Code.

Read the scriptures as easily as you would read a newspaper or magazine.

Your best resource and guide is this website: I hope you will make a point of visiting. It will be my privilege to be your guide.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Author's Note:
This article was published on in June, 2012. I thought readers of this blog would be interested in the relevance to pop culture and its influence on the motion picture industry.

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s official, apparently. The movie “The Avengers” has broken all box office records, making it the all-time, most popular movie. Audiences are blown away by the action-packed battles between good and evil, and between the egomaniacal characters themselves.

So, why all this escalating interest in comic book heroes and primeval gods? How did fantastic tales of superheroes battling aliens and mythic gods warring with one another as well as chaos monsters grow in popularity to eclipse all other movie genera?

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The Avengers

In the waning decades of the last century, comic book superheroes had nearly disappeared from the cultural milieu, and reading of the Greek classics such as Homer’s "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" had long since vanished from education’s curricula. So why all the renewed interest in a species of entertainment that had all but disappeared in the latter part of the last century?

Looking back, perhaps we can see why and what it says about our day and time.

Ancient Superheroes

It’s obvious to all who have dabbled in mythology that these crusaders are modern, technological reincarnations of the cosmic gods and monsters of antiquity. Their quarrelsome, contentious natures — "Transformers" being the best modern example — are obviously derived from their counterparts in ancient mythology. Consider Zeus and his band of misfit Titans, incessantly plotting and scheming against one another when they aren’t actually in open, armed conflict.

While such tales of cosmic chaos, where gods and monsters do battle in the heavens, are universal in ancient lore and cultures worldwide, we get our best glimpse of these interplanetary loners, persecutors and tyrants from the Greek tradition.

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The Hydra

In fact, the name for the very place where we go today to witness these horrific spectacles derives from the Greek word for goddess, “thea.” The Greeks called the battles of their sky gods “theomachy,” and government by the gods “theocracy.” Thus, “theater” meant a place for witnessing the exploits of the ancient gods. Their adventures were also rehearsed up close and personal in the rites and rituals enacted in sacred precincts such as temples, henges, kivas and pyramids. Each initiate actually participated ritually in the daring acts or missteps of the gods, goddesses and monsters — some few involuntarily, as in the Aztec ritual of human sacrifice.In Greek custom, the traditional clashes of the gods were rehearsed by actors on a stage using the best special effects they could muster. Gods, beasts and monsters entered the stage in elaborate, sometimes grotesque costume. Their special effects included the roaring sound of battle, theomachy, which could be heard as crude mechanical monstrosities such as Hydra, the serpent like monster with multiple heads, appeared as if from out of nowhere to engage the god and demigod actors on stage.

In fact, the very basis for most of our fiction centers on the confrontation of the villain and the hero, a universal theme in ancient lore.

Modern theater employs an upgraded version of Greek theater, with eye-popping special effects, emotive sound effects and dynamic musical orchestrations — all produced at ear-splitting, mind-boggling levels for added psychological effect. The surreal theomachy of these bullies is spectacularly recreated and take theater to a whole new emotional level.

But make no mistake: Though the Greeks’ efforts were crude by our standards, they had no less an effect on ancient audiences than modern technology allows movie creators to inflict on us. The ancients reacted the same way we do: We enjoy it!

While it takes us on an emotional roller coaster and fills us with dread and astonishment, it also fills deep-seated emotional and psychological needs. Any psychologist worth his salt will tell you that they’re a reflection of the uncertain world we see around us and the anxiety we feel as a result.


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Modern Heroes

The comic book versions of these gods, goddesses and monsters, those we called “action heroes,” and the crude science fiction movie genre that exploded onto the big screen in the aftermath of the Second World War alleviated the doomsday anxiety of a generation of Americans that had seen genocide in that conflict and lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation. Their common storyline involved an effort to set right a world threatened by everything from petty criminals to maniacal tyrants to malevolent aliens from other worlds and dimensions.When the heroes in comic books or the silver screen defeated the villains, it was reassuring. The world seemed less menacing, less overwhelming. It was escapism, a subconscious effort to assure ourselves that all could be made right in an otherwise uncertain, chaotic and threatening world.

Perhaps looking at it from the perspective of another culture will help clarify.

In the wake of nuclear events that leveled most of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese culture invented Godzilla, a fire-breathing dragon stirred from its tomb by the belligerent behavior of the human race and its abuse of technology. He is the incarnation of the mythic dragons of yesteryear. His more recent silver screen counterparts include the monsters from "Alien," "Predator" and even Hollywood's latest take on the monster from the epic poem "Beowulf."

Future Heroes

By extrapolation then, we conclude that the resurgence of this motion picture category in recent years resides in our collective experience, just as it was with the Japanese. So, too, with the ancients, experiencing the problematic nature of the human condition, sought emotional and psychological refuge in ritual sublimation and escapism.

The trigger that spurred the resurgence of heroic and deific cinemas in recent years was the horrific collapse of the World Trade Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, and the struggle to defeat terrorism. Now, our superheroes, gods, monsters, dragons and demigods have emerged once again on the movie screen with a vengeance. And with the impact imparted by computer-enhanced special effects, these hero- based epics are spectacular and action-packed.

This being the case, one may be forgiven for making a couple of predictions.

If world tensions ease, the popularity of this variety of motion pictures will diminish to the same degree. But if world tensions continue or escalate, it will become even more prevalent, popular and graphic. But more than that, the time may come when the pacifying effects of such movies will not be enough. Like our ancestors, if the provocation to re-enact becomes great enough, the urge will be seen in the streets. Modern society will seek ways to inflict this chaos. We will become suffering actors in our own caustic drama.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Voice of the People

We’ve reached a milestone in American history. Emotions are running high. Liberals are elated; conservatives are disheartened.
This past election was a watershed moment in time. Everyone, on both sides of the political spectrum, is in agreement about that, but for very different reasons. Everything has changed.

Until recent decades, the majority of Americans stood steadfastly for certain core values, whether liberal or conservative. A back-and-forth tug-of-war dominated politics and ensured that neither philosophy could dominate for long. But now, that’s over.

Curiously, the Book of Mormon prophet, Mosiah, had something to say on this subject.

Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people. (Mosiah 29: 26)

For over 200 years, the self correcting nature of our political system worked just as Mosiah explained. Mosiah referenced what we have called “the moral majority” in our time, those who possess the innate goodness manifest by a free people. This “voice of the people,” according to Mosiah, could be counted on to steady the ship of state with the ballast of common sense and tiller of personal responsibility.

But that may be lost to us now. What most Americans do not comprehend is that the creeping secularism on the left has infiltrated and infected every aspect of our lives, altering and eroding traditional American values. Like a metastatic cancer, it has overwhelmed the body politic, leaving us morally and culturally bankrupt.

Once a marginal movement in American culture, progressive secularism has grown greatly in the last three or four decades, in both political and social influence. With the outcome of this election, the door was thrown open wide to further and radically revise traditional American values. That trend may now be irreversible.

Secularism has won the day. Conservatism is in decline. The so called “moral majority” in America is no longer the guiding hand in American politics. Radical, politically correct and progressive notions and institutions are now dominant, the order of the day.

Those living on the public dole, whatever form that takes, represent nearly half the population, giving rise to a dominant entitlement culture in America, displacing the self sufficient, individualist attitude that has characterized the majority of Americans for generations. These who are dependent upon on one form of public assistance or another will invariably elect a leader who will promise to give them more benefits, more perks.

The reelection of Barak Obama confirms this. It is a sure indication, an overt manifestation of the topsy-turvy state of affairs in America today.

Mosiah also cited what will happen to any nation occupying “this land” when the majority loses its bearings.

And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. (Mosiah 29: 27)

In the simple and straightforward manner typical of Book of Mormon prophets, Mosiah calls poor judgment “iniquity.” With this past election, it’s clear that the voice of the people, the majority, has chosen poorly.

If, in your opinion, that is an overstatement, if you disagree, just give it a little time to see how this all plays out. We will all be made to suffer for this debacle.

 Further, Mosiah emphatically declares that “the judgments of God” will come upon us for acquiescing to such perfidy. Clearly, if we haven’t sensed it before, we will soon be forced to acknowledge that we are all on board a fateful Titanic.

What is also clear is that the righteous will not be exempt from these chastisements. They seldom are, given the historical record. In fact, if there is a truism that can be distilled from the Nephite record, it is that. So those of us living out the “Nephite nightmare” in our day and time cannot expect our righteousness to exempt us from what Mosiah promised.

The message for us in this crucial moment in American history is, What form will these “judgments of God” and “great destruction” take? To answer that question, we must turn again to events in Nephite history, since that would have been Mosiah’s perspective when he cited judgments and destruction.

While there were many wars, contentions, a drought and predations by Gadianton robbers in Nephite history that could be called judgments, there was one destruction that far exceeds the rest, which immediately leaps to mind. You can read about it for yourself in 3 Nephi. I strongly suggest you do, because like all Nephite ills, this woe awaits us who occupy “this land.”